Everything parents need to know about schools reopening next week – including face masks and testing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all primary, secondary and college students will return to full-time education on March 8 – but what will it be like?

By Sam Ward
Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 3:26 pm

It was announced in the Prime Minister’s roadmap that all pupils in primary, secondary and college education will be told to return from March 8.

Since the turn of the year it has been only vulnerable children and those with key-worker parents that have been in physical education, with most being taught virtually.

It will be mandatory for your child to return to education, but some secondary schools or colleges may choose to stagger the return of pupils.

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Pupils will return to full-time face-to-face education across the country from Monday, March 8.

How will it work?

To return, all pupils will be offered a coronavirus test from March 8, and those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result.

Testing is not mandatory, but is highly-recommended as many younger children will not show Covid symptoms.

Households with school-aged children will now also be offered regular testing.

All members of the household will be offered two rapid lateral flow tests a week – with results showing in as little as 30 minutes.

What if my child shows symptoms?

Government guidelines state that you should not send your child to school if:

- They have symptoms of Coronavirus or live in a household with someone who has symptoms.

- Have tested positive themselves, even if they do not have symptoms.

- Live in a household with someone who has tested positive.

- They are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus.

Do pupils have to wear masks?

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said wearing masks in school will not be compulsory, but will be ‘highly recommended’.

He said on BBC Breakfast: “We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school.”

Former education minister Robert Halfon has now said this may create ‘anarchy’ in schools.

He said: "If a pupil - or a parent on behalf of a pupil - objects to comply with the wishes of a head teacher to wear a mask, are we not in danger of creating mask anarchy?”